“…And where does it say that in the text?” asked Elizabeth Fisher, my Biblical Studies tutor.
Although she didn’t call herself an evangelical, she was ruthless in her expectation that our view-points came from scripture, actually from what scripture said rather than simply what we thought it said!
The Discipline of going back to the Bible seems to be somewhat lacking in some of our Churches as so often scripture is misquoted, taken out of context and non biblical texts are wrongly-attributed which aren’t actually in the Bible! Recently I heard some one talk about “the right thing which often isn’t the easy thing” confusing the words of Jesus with J.K Rowling’s Dumbledore from Harry Potter.
Discipleship is not quoting your first ever Pastor parrot fashion, but actually s/he should have taught us to read the Bible for ourselves and be able to shape our lives and doctrine accordingly.
I have more respect for someone who disagrees with me, but has prayerfully sought God and wrestled with the text, and the wider text(s) than somebody who may tick the same doctrinal box as me, but really is simple regurgitating lazy third hand theology.
The question we need to ask ourselves, is are we ‘God Honoring’ in how we responsibly use the Bible, prayerfully, in context, or are we playing a bit ‘fast and loose with it?’
The reformation happened when Martin Luther, a German Monk, saw in scripture what it actually said rather than what he had been told it said (and meant) -“be penitent” rather than “do penance” -Which led to people reading the Bibles for themselves and discovering afresh that this was good news worth dying for (in fact many of them did).
It made me think, Truth is still true even if no one believes it, just as a lie is still a lie even if everyone believes it!
One of my friends, was at theological college and they were asking about peoples fears, one of the fears was about “loosing their faith” and Chris’ response inspired me… “I don’t want to be believing something that’s not true!”
He used to do some great spiritual chats with young people, and he used to say was “Don’t believe anything I say simply because I’ve said it, but because you have discovered it to be true”.
“When-ever I preach I don’t want people to blindly follow me and agree with everything I say, that is bonkers, but rather the question has to be does it line up with the word of God, and is he using scripture wisely and appropriately.
Bishop Stephen Conway once said “when we disagree we need to read our Bibles together more and more”.
More-over, in the book of Joshua we are told not to depart from the book of the law, not to turn from the right or to the left, actually both are unbiblical, because both are a turning from God’s word. Instead, I have found trying to be biblical has often been more like a tightrope walk, and on some occasions I have been accused of being liberal and on others of being too fundamentalist… Yet sticking closely to the word of God will get you in trouble probably from either side of the fence. Sometimes when I get attacked from both sides and no one seems happy, I think “perhaps I’m doing something right”!!
Yet the problem I think ultimately stems from the way too many Christians in this generation don’t know their Bibles very well, and reading it regularly sadly seems to be something that slips more and more.
Are we ruthless pursuers after truth? The dream of many of us, is that we actually have a more biblical Orthodox (right belief) but also a more Biblical Orthopraxic (right living).
So, my challenge for us all, is as we end 2016, let’s have 2017 as the year of deepening our relationship with scripture, let’s read the Bible together more. My prayer is lets not just get information to fill our heads (after all knowledge puffs up) but rather revelation for our hearts, which bring transformation to our lives and the lives of others.